Paddleboarding & Finding the Elusive Loon Lake

Last week I finally accomplished my goal of finding the Elusive Loon Lake at the base of Mt. Vimy. A couple of years ago while on Bear’s Hump, I noticed a lake across the lake at the base of Vimy. After checking out a park map,. I learned that it was called Loon Lake and I’ve been wanting to check it out ever since.  I tried to get there twice before and was unsuccessful, once by paddle board and another time when biking.

We originally intended to hike to Crypt lake to celebrate Rachelle’s birthday but the forecast for that day was in the mid-30s. Most of the hike is exposed and we decided to keep cool and stick close to the water with paddle boarding instead. All the girls (except yours truly) has an inflatable paddle board so there was no need to rent.

We started early and got to Emerald Bay at around 8:30 am. This was definitely smart as pumping those things up is a lot of work! Phew! Rachelle was kind and switched off with me because this out of shape mama was huffing and puffing. Ha ha!

After we were ready, we pushed off and headed toward Middle Waterton Lake. Even though it was so early, there was still a slight wind blowing up Lower Waterton lake which made for a choppy passage across that part of the lake.

Once we got around the corner onto Middle Waterton Lake, the wind was a little less intense and we enjoyed paddling along. We passed the cliff  I had seen photos and video from Blakiston & Co. of people cliff jumping and thought it was a great idea for the way back when it got hotter.

We saw the Wishbone Landing dock at the end of the lake and I knew the trail started around that dock so we paddled toward it. The wind was a little strong which meant we had to paddle hard to stay on course and get to the dock.

Once we got to the dock, we put on our sneakers and headed onto the trail. This is not a typical hike, you won’t find information about it on the Parks hiking page, I had just seen it on a map a couple of years ago. So the night before, I went onto Google Earth and saw a skinny trail in the trees and I measured the distance between points and it looked like the lake was 1km away from Wishbone Landing.

This trail is rarely travelled and it was covered in thick brush and we walked through getting our legs all scratched up.

The trail is under here somewhere

After a little while, Jenna and Rachelle started to doubt my intel on the hike. Any loyal reader knows I have a bad history of mixing up hike distances and elevation gains resulting in unprepared hikers. I’m famous for telling people a trail distance and it winds up being double the expected distance. Ha ha!

Rachelle busted out her All Trails app and it said we weren’t on the mail trail that goes to Crypt Landing, but rather some off trail. But I trusted my gut and I told them we should keep going.

We came to an opening in the trees and saw a directional sign which meant we were on the right trail. The All Trails app must have been just a little off.

And just over the hill from the clearing we spotted it- Loon Lake- AT LAST!

Well, turns out it’s more of a pond than a lake. The water is very shallow resulting in a ton of algae along the bottom.

But I didn’t care, I had found this lake at last!

The best part was that we spotted an actual loon on Loon Lake.

As we hiked back we talked about different names that were more appropriate like Loon Lagoon, Loon Pond, or Rachel’s Loon Lagoon.

It had gotten really hot on the way back and I was happy to jump into the lake when we got back to the shore.

 

We spent a little time trying out some SUP yoga which is always fun. Kate is hard core and would push a pose until she went into the lake.

Going in!

We hugged the shoreline on the way back and came upon a huge cliff just as a girl jumped off into the water below where her friends were in kayaks.

As we paddled up, I talked about the bridge I jumped off when I was 21 that was about that height and how the impact threw my back out. Kate told the story of a girl in her teens who landed with her legs open and tore her vagina on the impact. And then Kate goes “I’m going to do it.”

I had to upload the video of her jump to Youtube so you could see it, because a photo doesn’t do it justice. My favourite part is that as she jumped she yelled “Moms are cool too!” A girl after my own heart!

I wanted to do something much more low-key and we paddled past the rest of the cliffs looking for a good jumping spot, but they were all too shallow. I should have just climbed up that cliff a little ways and jumped. Good to know for the future!

When we hit the connecting section from Middle top Lower Waterton Lake the water got choppy and so we stopped chatting and focused on paddling through the water back to shore.

Feeling good, we headed off to Lakeside Chophouse for lunch on the patio overlooking the lake. This is where my burn started to make itself known. I am someone who cannot forget sunscreen!

It was such a perfect day filled with a lot of laughter and adventure!

 

 

2 Comments

  • Camille August 19, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Just to add to the stories…a friend of mine in high school broke her back cliff jumping in Waterton!

    Reply
    • Rachel August 19, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Which cliff?!?! The one Kate jumped off?

      Reply

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